Archives For Blogging

Here is the interview that I did with Ben Huberman editor at WordPress Discover .  I hope you enjoy reading it 🙂

How Soprano Charlotte Hoather Took Her Singing — and Blogging — to New Heights

Whether you’re a writer, creator, or business owner, it can be challenging to pursue your passion while maintaining a consistent online presence. British opera singer Charlotte Hoather does just that. Charlotte’s blog celebrated its fifth anniversary earlier this year — so we recently chatted with her to learn how she manages a demanding, globe-trotting work schedule while posting and connecting with her readers.

How did your blogging journey begin?

As an undergraduate student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) I was criticized for not being able to write essays with enough academic authority and sensible structure. I had always struggled with mixing up words, incorrect spelling, and creating a flowing argument. It was very frustrating, and despite all my hard work and research, I wasn’t sure how to improve.

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The RCS suggested that I get tested for Dyslexia. It was a relief to discover after all those years what had been causing me problems. I was encouraged to start an online journal to explore reflective thinking and critical writing. To fuel my posts, I participated in a creative-writing module where we would critique live theatre and discuss general topics. I hoped that by using WordPress, I could improve my English skills and develop my artistic confidence in communicating in words. I obviously still make mistakes, but that was how my journey into blogging began.

How would you define your blog’s niche?

I share my passion for opera with others, whether they are novices or keen Puccini lovers. When I was young, I hadn’t ever experienced classical music and opera. Auditioning for conservatoires was so alien, and I was the first person to do it at my sixth form. I genuinely wanted to get discussions going and to share my world with other people from mixed backgrounds, rather than just talk and interact — which I also love to do — with a small clique of musicians. I wanted people to see why we train for so long and how opera is like athletics and sports. It takes daily practice, patience for long-term goals, and incredible self-motivation, which I am continually testing!

Was earning money through your site a priority?

I haven’t monetized my blog, but I do use it and other social media to encourage people to listen to the songs I recorded on iTunes, Amazon, and any of the leading digital platforms like Spotify, Napster, and Deezer. I’m hoping to record a new CD now that my post-graduate training has finished at The Royal College of Music in London, and I hope that people can hear the progress I’ve made. Now, to find a recording studio and the time!

You currently maintain a Jetpack-powered, self-hosted website, as well as a bloghere on WordPress.com. How did you become a WordPress user?

I can’t remember the program the RCS suggested we use, but I didn’t like that the platform owned all the content — I could never delete anything if I wanted to and I had no control. I looked at Blogger and WordPress, but you can’t self-host Blogger. I liked the blogs I read on WordPress and felt the community was warm and welcoming, so I jumped in, initially with a free blogging theme, and have added in extras through the years to improve the functionality and style of the blog and make it more independent and unique.

It was super easy to set up, and came with lots of free themes and good support. I have gone for a mix of a self-hosted WordPress website and a blog hosted through WordPress.com.

If you could magically add a feature to your WordPress site, what would it be?

It would help if WordPress had a Grammarly plugin so that when you form your replies to comments, they are automatically checked for those people who need it. There are so many brilliant writers and storytellers on WordPress it wouldn’t need to be there all the time.

You’ve garnered a massive following on several social platforms. Do you have any advice for people who are still struggling to find an audience beyond their real-life circle of family and friends?

Of my social media platforms, my blog came first. WordPress community members recommended I set up a Facebook page and linked it, and then another blog friend was surprised I didn’t have Twitter and suggested that and also advised me on how to set it up. Google+ followed, and a couple of years ago Instagram — although I still need to get my head around hashtag use. I try to treat them all as individual platforms now, but I’m really no expert — I just muddle along getting tips from people.

Beyond her blog, you can also follow Charlotte on InstagramTwitterFacebook, and Google+.

WordPress used to be easier to attract readers, do follow-backs, and build communities, but as I got busier in my studies I found it hard to keep in touch with everyone. But I do my best. I would recommend that you visit, like, and comment on other blogs and build friendships even if you can only do this once each month. Just like friends in real life, if you ignore people for too long they drift away. Blogging is more about sharing and caring about others than just about you.

Training to become a professional soprano is — one would assume! — an often-grueling process. How do you find the time and energy to connect with fans and music lovers online (not to mention others from the blogging community)?

Training to become an opera singer is very taxing, but I adore it. I try to fit my blogging and connecting with my friends through social media around my tightly packed schedule. The way I blog and my expectations of myself have changed over the past five years. I used to post twice each week. I was able to use some of the posts toward my academic credits, and earlier in my training, I had a bit more free time as I was building up my vocal stamina — I could practice a lot less than I can now. As I progressed through my training, I decided to cut down my posts to one per week, preferring quality over quantity. This ensured that I could keep the conversations going and keep in touch with people enjoying my adventures.

I love knowing that on Sunday, I need to create a post! No ifs, no buts! It means that at some point in the week I need to have done something interesting or complete some research on an area of opera that I would love to share with people. It taught me to enjoy the little moments: if I have a quiet period in my career and visit family and make paper flowers, then that’s what I share.

I wish I had more time to answer everyone on my social media platforms individually. I hope that people understand; if they want a reply or a discussion, I ask that they comment on my blog — this platform easily allows for that.

Do you have any practical advice for aspiring bloggers on a busy schedule?

I wake up early and go to bed around 10:30-11:00. I have always had a full-structured, energetic day. I often dictate my thoughts into my iPhone and convert them into text. I think this allows for a conversational style of writing, which I can later edit grammatically. I answer comments as I go along on public transport, or if I have any downtime between appointments. I usually copy the comments into a word document and edit them over a few days. Once they are all complete, I put them all on at the same time. My Dad helps with videos and resizing photos, and my Mum checks my post for spelling and grammar.

On a more personal note, what are the next goals you’ve set for yourself?

After six years of training at Music Conservatoires in both Glasgow and London, I want to apply everything I’ve learned so far and put it into practice. During my studies, I managed to find my own small work projects. Now I want to develop my professional working portfolio while continuing to advance my language, singing, and dance skills, which take a lot of time and investment.

I hope that over the next five years, I can enter a Young Artist Program or Fest Contract at an opera house and maintain a career in opera. I would love to continue working internationally, as I have really enjoyed working abroad, trying new cuisines, conversing in different languages, and partaking in special customs.

But for the next few months, the hope is to keep my head above water, stay motivated, and earn enough to support my training and become an engaged member in this industry.

Do you have a dream role (or roles) you’d love to perform?

My dream roles change constantly, depending on my mood and personal development. At the moment I would love to perform Musetta from La Bohème (Puccini), Zerbinetta from Ariadne auf Naxos (R. Strauss) and The Controller from Flight (Dove). But one thing I have learned recently is that if you are surrounded by a wonderful cast, every role is enjoyable — even the smallest role has a big story to tell, full of personal hardships and glory.

Any other exciting plans for the near future?

I had some great experiences this past year performing in Manchester, London, Cornwall, Oxford, and even Paris and New York, and I’m currently on a tour with Scottish Opera in the Highlands of Scotland. After that, who knows? That is what makes life such an adventure, and hopefully gives me enough blog content to continue.

Four Years On

March 5, 2017 — 106 Comments

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This week is the fourth anniversary of my blog, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of the wider blogging community.

For any newcomers to my blog, when I began my goal was to improve my writing. As part of my first year as an Undergraduate, I was struggling to answer questions for the critical writing module within the word count allowed, which was often as short as 500 words long. The discipline of writing my blog posts helped, forcing me to be more concise. At that time writing for me was difficult and not something that I found enjoyable. But accessing the knowledge and receiving the assistance of some great wordsmiths through reading their blogs and them kindly commenting on mine changed my opinion and helped me to increase my enjoyment of writing.

Over the years I have met many people from all over the world, through their blogs and other social media ( Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube and more lately Instagram ) I have seen the world through their eyes and come to appreciate the vast amount that we all have in common. Blogging has become a celebration of what we share and allowed me to broaden my knowledge through the diverse interests of my friends within this enlarged community.

I hope that in return through my love of classical singing and opera I have helped introduce a few more people to this beautiful art form that means so much to me.

I don’t know where the next four years will take me, but I can’t wait to share them with you all.

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This last week has been a been a proper whirlwind for me and has absolutely flown by. The end of term is approaching at break neck speed and I cannot believe how quickly the last three months have disappeared.  I have so many things on my “to do list” and I am trying to get through them in an orderly manner.

Over the Christmas break I was hoping to put a little time aside to update the look of my website and blog.  It feels a little overwhelming to be honest as there are so many WordPress themes to consider.  I have a list of things that I would like to change and several more that I would like to keep the same.

When I started out I set up my blog using a WordPress hosted site, which as you all know can be a little limiting as you can’t use many of the wonderful plugins that are available. But my site has grown over the years and the thought of moving it now makes me nervous so I will probably stick with what I know. 

It would be really helpful to me if you have any tips that you have picked up over the years that you feel able to pass on, anything that may help me to improve the look and feel of my blog and bring it up to date.  I have checked out some of the themes available from WordPress and I like the look of “Arcane” but I need to check out some of the others before making my final choice which is why I would appreciate your help if you’ve experienced this site or know a better fit.

 

 

File-13-03-2016,-19-00-16_ppThanks to a notification from WordPress I just realised this week in March is my third blog anniversary! This will be my 290th post.

At the end of March 2013 I was advised by a blog friend to set up a Twitter page to share my blog posts and music which I did that month, in July 2013 I joined Facebook, then Google+ what an adventure, so many connections, thank you all for visiting with me, I appreciate you all spending time here.

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I hadn’t got a clue what I was doing when I first started writing my blog, in fact there were several months delay from when I first thought of keeping an on-line diary to actually publishing it.  Who’d have guessed how much I’ve enjoyed it, meeting all of you wonderful people, learning about all your passions and seeing so many of you successfully publishing books, your art turned into silk scarves, clothing and bedding, wall art, graphics. I’ve learnt about POWs, life stories, crystals, photography, gardening, cooking, DIY, music, farming, Greece and Greek mythology, India, Bollywood, China, surfing,  I could go on and on so much information, the community on WordPress is just amazing.  It helps me to be a more reflective thinker and encourages me to have a real awareness of myself. I would recommend blogging even if you just want to post very infrequently but still want to keep in touch with on-line friends.

This training I do is hard and very challenging and on some days when I’m emotionally drained I can always read the messages on my blog and read your blogs and get a positive boost of energy from you all.  I’m very thankful and I miss it if I’m too busy to visit as much as usual.

Can you believe my undergraduate course finishes in just over three months! It’s all coming to a head.  My ballet module was completed successfully, I’m so happy about that. Now I’m working on a module in Italian Opera History. I also have a performance/oral examination on my submitted research project. I have no academic writing scholars in my family to pick the brains of so I have to hit the books it’s been a really steep learning curve for me but very enjoyable.

Gravatars

The Four Gravatars That I have Used Since Starting Blogging

One tip to any new bloggers reading, please, please, please put your blog information in your gravatar so when fellow bloggers are exploring we can click through the links easily.  Some of your blogs have disappeared and I hope it’s not just the link that’s missing so if you haven’t heard from me in a while let me know.

Thank you all once again I couldn’t do it without your support and encouragement.